ISLAMABAD - Eight deposed judges of Sindh High Court have taken fresh oath to return to the bench. More from Lahore are likely to follow. With one stroke, the PPP-led government has succeeded where Gen (r) Musharraf had largely failed. A deep rupture has been caused in the lawyers' movement. The judges and lawyers stand vertically divided and it comes on the eve of another phase of this movement with the planned countrywide sit-ins set for today. The irony of it all is that judges have been 'reappointed' under a presidential decree signed by (guess who?) - Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf That was his parting kick to the lawyers' movement and his nemesis Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. He did this so happily ((in complicity with the PPP) because it meant putting his stamp of reaffirmation on his November 3 emergency and the PCO under which he had sacked 60 judges. The legal fraternity, civil society and political parties have always termed them as unconstitutional and even the General himself concurred. The Sindh High Court has a new chief justice, Anwar Zahir Jamali. Ex-CJ Sabihuddin Ahmed had found an honourable course of resigning midway in disgust instead of being reviled day in and day out by PPP and its new found-love MQM as representing the judiciary that too had taken oath under the PCO and did not provide justice to Asif or the PPP activists. Other ex-chief justices including CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry would meet the same fate. Law Minister Farooq Naek who, together with the likes of Khosas, Babar Awans and Pirzadas, had successfully blocked their restoration for six months, says present chief justices including Abdul Hameed Dogar are legitimate heads of their respective courts. Firstly they have also taken oath under the constitution. Secondly, the Justice Dogar heading the Supreme Court had ruled that his and other judges' elevation under the PCO was constitutional in keeping with the doctrine of necessity. "There could be only one chief justice. If Iftikhar Chaudhry is reinstalled, it will create a constitutional crisis," says Naek. Attorney-General Latif Khosa has candidly admitted (what is a universal perception) that Zardari does not want Justice Chaudhry back. For six months, it was Zardari and not the military dictator who stood between the restoration of judges ignoring immense public pressure. What the General could not have survived, Mr. Zardari was able to absorb successfully because, first;  he had a popular party behind him and second, the democratic forces leading the judges' movement did not want to be seen as destabilizing the new nascent and fragile democratic order. Zardari had once said he would restore judges but would choose his own timing and method. It was a commitment neither written nor signed. Yet, this time, he has kept his word. The process of return of judges has been launched, a la Zardari's way. It is believed that on the day of inauguration as President, Zardari will 'invite' all the deposed judges to accept re-employment and take fresh oath with added attraction that their seniority would be retained. While Zardari would administer oath if Justice Iftikhar accepts the offer and if (it is a big if) he is also invited, other judges would present themselves before Hameed Dogar to restate their allegiance. Those who do not accept the fait accompli or renounce their previous stance that they are still constitutional judges who have only been rendered dysfunctional, would automatically be weeded out. The government would have scored the point that Zardari has fulfilled his promise on restoration of judges while at the same the judiciary would be purged of the undesirable. A judiciary overwhelmingly packed with PCO judges, outnumbering the few deposed ones and led by Abdul Hameed Dogar, would be as plaint to President Asif Zardari as it was to General Musharraf whose every unconstitutional acts it had validated under the doctrine of necessity. This is a civilian PCO. After all, dictators like Gen Ziaul Haq and Gen. Musharraf had done the same by promulgating the Provisional Constitutional Order when they wanted to purge the judiciary of independent and honest lot. They decreed them to take fresh oath of allegiance to them. Those who were not invited or did not accept the new system were shunted out.